Monday, October 27, 2014

The Man at The Garage (RAOK Alert)

A couple of weeks ago, my missionary father-in-law was headed to a week long retreat outside the city. He'd been having issues with his car, so one of the other men volunteered to drive. The man suggested that my dad drop off the car at his mechanic. (I'd explain what was wrong with his car, but since the only thing I readily identify about automobiles is their size and colour, so I'll refrain from explaining it, err, trying to explain it, here.) Suffice to say, the bill came out to well over a hundred dollars. When my father-in-law tried to pay, the mechanic said that someone else had already taken care of it. This person identified himself only as a Christian and asked that his name not been given. A true random act of kindness.

When dad first told my wife and I this story, I felt something lift inside my chest. Maybe it's because you need to know my wife's parents. I know people hear all kinds of stories about missionaries, and some of them are disturbing and awful. But Tim and Lorna are extraordinary people. Everything about them is soft and gentle and loving. Tim grew up in Ethiopia, where his dad was a missionary, and became one himself. When he met Lorna, the two of them went back there where they built English schools and dug wells and did everything they could to help a people in need. My wife moved 21 times before she was 16 years old, and through everything -- a drought, a civil war -- they stayed firm, an example of love and kindness with little consideration to themselves.

Here in Canada, they continue to serve as missionaries, albeit in a different capacity. They are, without question, two of the most loving people I have ever met. They have adopted a very simple, very kind life, and it is always a joy to spend time with them. (It's difficult to explain, but when you're with them, it feels like everything slows down. Like the hurried and harried needs of our ultra-fast society are somewhere in the background. It's like breathing clean air after so many years of rushing to take a breath.)

That someone, a random stranger, would pay for their repairs, struck me as either wonderful coincidence, or God (and using a Humphrey Bogart voice, of course) ordering someone to 'do them a solid.'

I started wondering what would happen if every Christian, if every person of faith, stopped campaigning for who shouldn't be included and ripping every "sinful" act every committed, and simply started doing this. Obviously, I included myself in these considerations and decided that the entire world would start believing whatever people who espoused such kindness had to say. Who wouldn't?

In the end, at least for that one person who payed the bill, it wasn't about credit. It wasn't about being recognized for their generosity. And it wasn't about showing the world how great they were or how much better their religion was. It was an act of kindness, from one person to another, to two of the sweetest people you'll ever meet. Ah yes, a Kind Life indeed.